The Strand's track Cleanse blew me away on the Resistor compilation from Nilaihah records. I mentioned it as a "highlight track of the compilation" in the review of that CD* and was excited to receive their debut CD In the Trench. Based in Arizona, The Strand is made up mostly of Dave Strand but has a huge live outfit as you can see in the picture included with this review. Kimberly Brown also provides a bit of nice vocal work throughout the CD as well. Produced in Dave's living room shortly after his move from Chicago to Arizona, the production is amazingly superb for a home studio release.
Nearly every track on In the Trench can be considered a highlight. Favorites include the gritty and techno-slam track of Chicks Suck (Guys Suck), in which Dave and Kimberly share the chorus chanting the track name at each other, daring one another to accuse them back. A mid break with eastern influenced vocals is well placed and a sudden surprise, breaking the scraping stompage of the track only to throw you headfirst back into it. The techno riffs fade away for a while to let Kimberly complain about us. Very well done.
Probably my favorite song included here is I Hate My F---ing Job. There are two versions - the original and a Bastani Remix later on. Opening with a great sample, the original version goes into a rhythmic piece with smooth melodies and popping keyboards. Vocals are scratchy and gritty, a low-brow scream. It's a very powerful track with great rhythm breaks into windy keys and more vocal samples. The Bastani Remix of the song adds more powerful keyboard melodies and a stronger rhythm - a much more complicated arrangement overall. I like this version a lot more.
Deceived (misspelled on the jacket - oh c'mon Dave, you know I'm a picky bastard heh?) occupies track 5. I mention this track because I particularly like Kimberly's vocals during the song. Smooth and seductive and floaty. Let's jump to track 9, where darkwave favorites The Azoic mix up the original Deceived into a more trancelike style with rising melodic keyboards and more technoish riffs that winds around it. The last track I'm going to mention is the moody and morose CD closer of Bookmark on the Shelf. Featuring Kimberly's sweet voice and bell like whispers and a slower, smoother darkwave melody, Bookmark is a great way to close an otherwise stompy and powerful CD.
Dave and Kimberly and the rest of The Strand have opened up with a great piece of work. A very exciting and powerful CD, very complicated arrangements and smooth melodies, all done in a living room studio. I brought that up again because I'm still shocked by the production quality of the work. A solid debut from this new crew in Arizona, I'm looking forward to more.
* Legend #101, August 2000.
Post: Dave Strand, P.O. Box 7820, Tempe, AZ, 85281-0028
Phone: (480) 425-0385